Netflix is one of if not the biggest video streaming services in the market, but even it is finding that market to be stagnating and getting too crowded. A lot of people in the markets it serves already have a Netflix subscription, and the markets it doesn’t serve aren’t quick to embrace its business model. In an attempt to woo new users in markets like Kenya, Netflix is doing something that might have been unthinkable years ago, offering a serving of its video content completely free of charge.
Video streaming is a big business, and Netflix remains the undisputed king of that hill, despite the growing reach of rivals like Disney+. Unlike in the music streaming biz, Netflix and some of its competitors don’t offer a free tier. They do offer free trials from time to time, but you will be required to pay for the subscription once that period is over.
That is what makes this announcement rather revolutionary for the service, even if it isn’t a new business model. People in Kenya will now be able to enjoy a fraction of Netflix’s library without paying for anything. They just need to sign up with an e-mail and password, say that they are at least 18 years old, and sit back and chill.
There are limitations to this free tier, of course, going beyond what users can access. This free tier can only be used on Android mobile phones, and streaming to any other device will require upgrading to a paid subscription. You can’t cheat by trying to cast the shows to a TV, and you can’t download videos for offline viewing either.
While this is the first time Netflix offered a free tier, it might not be the last time, depending on how well the experiment goes. This new program in Kenya is meant to gather data on how effective having a free subscription plan is in attracting paying subscribers. It could end up offering the same plan in other markets, or it could shut it down eventually if it realizes very few of those free users upgrade to a paid tier in the end.